TOOHEY'S NEWS | If you were coaching the Newcastle Knights, where would you play Kalyn Ponga - fullback or five-eighth?

It is a debate that is already being had in certain sections of the media and among fans.

And we reckon down the track, given how much he has captivated rugby league already this season, the discussion will only grow louder.

Should Kalyn Ponga remain at fullback or will the Knights become a more potent force with him in the halves alongside Mitchell Pearce?

The answer, if you are Nathan Brown, is there is no debate. Ponga is staying at fullback. He has already been anointed as Billy Slater’s successor with the Queensland Origin side at fullback.

Those who want him to stay where he is are asking why change something that is working so well? He has been an absolute revelation this season playing where he is. Why would you tinker with that when he can bob up anywhere he likes on the field at any time anyway?

Kalyn Ponga

Kalyn Ponga

What is clear is if the club had any intention of doing a Darren Lockyer with Ponga, there is no way they would have let last night’s debutant, Nick Meaney, leave for the Bulldogs.

But here’s a question. If Meaney is going to be as good as many people think he will be down the track, would the Knights have been a better side next year or the year after with him at fullback, Ponga and Pearce in the halves and Connor Watson in the No 14 jumper?

Ponga’s stunning performance for Queensland playing in the front line in Origin ll only added fuel to the debate and gave greater voice to those who think the change would benefit the Knights.

It would be nice to have a crystal ball but one thing is certain, the discussion will go on and Ponga is so good, you could almost argue both sides of the debate are right.

Lamb to Eels?

There has been nothing confirmed but if Brock Lamb does leave the Knights as expected, we are hearing Parramatta is the likely destination.

He has met with the Eels [along with Manly and Brisbane] and it’s common knowledge they are trying to off-load Corey Norman.

Brock Lamb

Brock Lamb

Lamb’s manager Gavin Orr also happens to manage Eels coach Brad Arthur.

Meanwhile, Knights coach Nathan Brown is said to have pulled Connor Watson aside during the week to re-assure him there is absolutely no truth to social media rumours that the Knights are shopping him around. 

Ryles says no

It is not always just players who don’t want to uproot their lives and relocate to Newcastle.

Former international prop Jason Ryles has knocked back an offer to join the Knights coaching staff next season to remain at the Melbourne Storm.

Jason Ryles

Jason Ryles

It’s understood he was very close to agreeing to come but backed out at the last minute with Storm coach Craig Bellamy desperate to keep him in the southern capital.

It’s left coach Nathan Brown looking around for another potential recruit.

Titan off radar

The Knights have dropped out of the race to sign Titans backrower Keegan Hipgrave.

Hipgrave, who has family in Newcastle, had been on the club’s radar but word is the Titans have upped the ante to keep him with his price tag exceeding what the Knights were prepared to pay.

Crossland snub

We have heard of some selection gaffes in our time but few as baffling as this one.

Several weeks after being named halfback and vice-captain of the NSW Under 18’s side that beat Queensland, young Knights star Phoenix Crossland couldn’t even make the NSW Combined High Schools side for the Australian Schoolboys Championships. Politics at play maybe or an incompetent selection process?

Either way, it hasn’t affected his confidence. Crossland was close to the best player on the field last weekend when the Knights Under 20’s beat Cronulla.  

Dodging a bullet

Titans prop Jarrod Wallace might turn out to be a good “miss’ for the Knights.

The club went pretty hard to recruit him a couple of months ago in a bid to bolster their forward pack but given his Origin form, he is not worth the $700,000 plus deal he was asking for.

Jarrod Wallace

Jarrod Wallace

Stoney on Lakes’ radar

What price former Knights and Huddersfield Giants coach Rick Stone coaching Lakes United in the Newcastle comp next season?

In what would be a huge coup for the Seagulls, we are hearing the club is currently in talks with Stone to take over from current coach Todd Edwards, who has asked for a release from the final year of his contract on compassionate grounds.

Edwards, who has done a fantastic job with a young squad at Belmont this season, is said to be struggling with the travelling demands and approached the club more than a month ago to suggest he may not be able to go again in 2019.

Rick Stone

Rick Stone

With Al Lantry pulling the pin on a second term at Cessnock earlier this week after being re-appointed only a few days prior, the mail now has Edwards heading back to the Goannas.

He has previously taken the club to four grandfinals in five years. But a return to his old club will hinge on Lakes granting him a release and the Stone negotiations may have a bearing on that.

In other local coaching news, we understand Central has had an informal chat with Newcastle Rebels and former Kurri coach Phil Williams to see if he is interested in taking over from the departing Craig Miller.

Miller has recommended Williams as his successor but the club is likely to draw up a shortlist of contenders and go through a process.

Points system set to change

The Real NRL might be in the middle of the closest competition in their history but that may not stop officials tinkering with the player points system next season.

Newcastle officials have recommended the change to plug some holes in the current system and bring it closer into line with the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup competition.

Dorn interested in Knights gig

Maitland coach Luke Dorn has done a great job with the Pickers this season and there is a reason he is yet to be re-appointed to go again.

Dorn has aspirations to coach at a higher level and the club has encouraged him to see if there are any openings at the Knights.

He was spotted chatting with Nathan Brown more than a week ago.

Luke Dorn

Luke Dorn